Special Section on Haitian Women and Asylum

  • Post category:Projects

Country Condition Information | Expert Affidavits | Cases | Law Journal Articles | More Resources

(See also: Subsection on Gender-Based Violence under Country Conditions)

The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) provides free help to attorneys representing asylum applicants fleeing gender-based persecution, including country conditions information, legal and expert advice, and amicus appearance. CGRS has Haiti-specific information on violence against women and sexual and gender-based violence, citing human rights reports, experts, and articles. Fill out a request for CGRS assistance here. Please visit the IJDH Rape Accountability and Prevention Project, the IJDH news archive on gender-based violence, and Gender-Based Violence in Haiti (CGRS) for additional information.


Victim of Domestic Violence Seeking Asylum

Victim of Domestic Violence Seeking Asylum, Restavek

Reports on Women’s Rights and Gender-Based Violence in Haiti

Country Condition Information

Please also see our News Archive on Gender-Based Violence for related news.

Model Expert Affidavits


Law Journal Articles

  • Karen Musalo, A Short History of Gender Asylum in the United States: Resistance and Ambivalence May Very Slowly be Inching towards Recognition of Women’s Claims, 29 (2) Refugee Survey Quarterly 46-63 (2010).
    • The author expresses optimism toward gender asylum claims in the US but stays realist. Her optimism relies on a few cases:
      • Matter of Acosta (1985): definition of particular social group
      • Matter of Kasinga (1996): a woman from Togo threatened of FGC and victim of a forced marriage. BIA ruled that FGC is a severe enough harm to constitute persecution, and that she was a member of a particular social group defined by gender in combination with other immutable and fundamental characteristics. The particular social group was defined as “[y]oung women of the Tchamba-Kunsuntu Tribe who have not had FGM, as practiced by the tribe, and who oppose the practice.”
      • Matter of R- A (2009): a Guatemalan women victim of domestic violence was granted asylum The particular social group was: “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave the relationship,”
      • L-R DHS position Department of Homeland Security’s Supplemental Brief, 13 Apr. 2009 (DHS L.R. Brief): social visibility can be established demonstrating that once a woman enters into a domestic relationship, the abusers believes he has the right to treat her as he pleases (adoption of the UNHCR’s “social perception” approach) + adoption of the UNHCR’s bifurcated analysis allowing establishment of nexus when there is State’s failure to protect regardless the individual persecutor’s motivation.
    • See also Matter of R- A- (10 December 2010): Documents and Information on Rody Alvarado’s Claim for Asylum in the U.S.
  • Allison W. Reimann, Hope for the Future? The Asylum Claims of Women Fleeing Sexual Violence in Guatemala, 157 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1199 (April 2009).
    • The author describes the legal struggle on the treatment of Gender-based asylum claims through the example of Guatemalan women. Part II is interesting because it explains why women fleeing GBV cannot find asylum in the USA; the analysis can be used for Haitian women. Under international law, gender alone can form a particular social group (see UNHCR 1991, the 2002 UN HCR Gender Guidelines…), but because gender is not one of the enumerated characteristics expressly warranting protection, claims based on gender persecution are unlikely to succeed under US law. Two of the requirements under asylum law are not problematic anymore: sexual violence is recognized as egregious harm –a well-founded fear of persecution- and it is possible to prove that the Government is unable or unwilling to control the persecutor. However, the possession of a protected characteristic as well as the nexus between the persecution and the protected characteristic are usually defeated in front of US courts. First, women relied on the “particular social group” category (possession of an immutable characteristic), but US Courts have been reluctant to recognize gender as a particular social group because such group need social visibility and well-defined boundaries, two requirements lacking in the claims. The author though mentioned two cases where BIA recognized that gender alone may form a particular group: Niang v. Gonzales, 422 F.3d 1187, 1200 (10th Cir. 2005) (what is important to show is “whether the members of that group [women] are sufficiently likely to be persecuted that one could say that they are persecuted “on account of their membership”) and In re Acosta, 19 I. & N. Dec. 211 (B.I.A. 1985) (“the shared characteristic might be an innate one such as sex, color or kin ship ties”). Second, US Courts have shown reluctance to recognize the nexus and held that sexual violence was motivated by sexual attraction rather than by gender.
  • Crystal Doyle, Isn’t “Persecution” Enough? Redefining the Refugee Definition to Provide Greater Asylum Protection to Victims of Gender-Based Persecution, 15 Wash. & Lee J. Civil Rts. & Soc. Just. 519 (2009) (on file).
    • The note argues “two main points. Firstly, that, though laudable, existing–and proposed–efforts to incorporate gender-based persecution into the existing definitional framework are innately flawed and that alternative means are necessary to achieve consistent, straightforward asylum protection to victims of gender-based persecution. Secondly, this Note will propose that the solution to this problem may be an amended definition of “refugee” that removes the requirement of a causal nexus between the alleged persecution and one of the five current bases of asylum: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”.

More Resources


Country Condition Information | Expert Affidavits | Cases | Law Journal Articles | More Resources